Love & Friendship

"Extraordinary"

Love & Friendship Review


Acclaimed filmmaker Whit Stillman reunites the stars of his 1998 drama The Last Days of Disco, Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, for what might be the most entertaining big-screen Jane Austen adaptation ever. Based on her novella Lady Susan, this is a lacerating social comedy packed with hugely engaging characters. It brilliantly captures Austen's gift for crisply astute comedy, giving everyone in the gifted cast a chance to shine.

Set in 1790s England, the story centres on Lady Susan (Beckinsale), who has been recently widowed and now needs to sort out a hopefully lucrative future. First, she sets out to find a wealthy, dim-witted man to marry her spoiled daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark), and the dorky Sir James (Tom Bennett) is the perfect candidate. For herself, she sets her sights on the gorgeous, gullible Reginald (Xavier Samuel), the younger brother of her sister-in-law Catherine (Emma Greenwell), who's the only person who can see through Susan's scheming. Through all of this, Susan's only confidant is her American friend Alicia (Sevigny), who is sensibly married to an older man (Stephen Fry). And of course, Susan's plans simply refuse to go as she expects.

Beckinsale is terrific in the role as a sexy cougar who keeps all the men around her happy with blatant flattery. She understands the way to a man's heart, and isn't afraid to exploit everyone around her to make sure that she and Frederica are set up for life. Beckinsale gets this balance of charm and contempt exactly right, and her riotously sharp wit easily wins over the audience. The cast around her is just as good, engaging with Susan in fabulous wordplay, unable to resist being manipulated by her charisma. As the two targets of Susan's strategy, Bennett and Samuel are particularly strong. Bennett's bumbling James is simply the funniest thing on-screen this year, while Samuel manages to keep Reginald sweetly charming and never dull.

Stillman directs the film with the same light touch that makes the script such a delight. Period details are lavish and detailed without ever feeling oppressive. Indeed, the whole movie feels fizzy and bright, packed with amusing touches that include witty on-screen captions and a delicious classical score. It's rare for an 18th century drama to feel so bracingly contemporary. And as this film explores the precarious balance between men and women more than two centuries ago, it finds plenty of knowing resonance for today's audience. It's also a lot of fun.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Love & Friendship:



Love & Friendship

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 92 mins

In Theaters: Friday 13th May 2016

Box Office USA: $0.8M

Distributed by: Westerly Films

Production compaines: Blinder Films, Chic Films, Amazon Studios, Westerly Films, Revolver Amsterdam

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Fresh: 75 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Lauranne Bourrachot, Katie Holly,

Starring: as Alicia Johnson, as Lady Susan Vernon Martin, as Reginald DeCourcy, as Mr. Johnson, Emma Greenwell as Catherine Vernon, Justin Edwards as Charles Vernon, Tom Bennett as Sir James Martin, Morfydd Clark as Frederica Vernon, as Lady DeCourcy, as Sir Reginald DeCourcy, Jenn Murray as Lady Lucy Manwaring, Kelly Campbell as Mrs. Cross, Conor Lambert as Wilson The Butler, Conor MacNeill as The Young Curate, Ross Mac Mahon as Owen, Carla McGlynn as Lady Susan's Maid, Darragh O'Connor as Stable Boy, Lochlann O'Mearáin as Lord Manwaring, Olivia Fahy as Lady Alicia's Maid, Sophie Radermacher as Maria Manwaring, Dave Timbs as The Footman, Jordan Waller as Edward, Head Footman

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